Skip to content Skip to footer

The internet stranger’s eyes looked a little crazy

Conversations with strangers on the internet tend to be superficial, judgmental and short. But make an effort, and it can be an opportunity to have in-depth discussions with people you’d never normally meet. Anna Tang reports.

THE NIGHT BEFORE writing this, I was “strolling” around the online Q&A site Quora and encountered a man twice my age (I’m a teenager). He had shaved off his hair but sported an impressive, flourishing mane of a beard. 

Initial judgement: He’s probably a creep.

Despite that, I talked to him. From the way he held himself and his polished British accent, I thought he must be an Oxford University professor. Then he told me he was a drug dealer. Eww! Despite that, I still continued to talk to him.

I didn’t really register his odd physical appearance until at least fifteen minutes into my conversation with him about our common interest: classical music

Strange, right? The thought that somebody who looked so unconventional, held such absurd beliefs (“It’s okay to introduce yourself as a drug dealer”) would be so interested in something so… classic, so wholesome, even.

And of all classical pieces, he enjoyed Mozart’s K330 Sonata, for goodness sake: an innocent, happy piano piece. I told him to listen to Beethoven’s Pathetique or Appassionata, as they would suit him better: much more dark and dramatic.


His eyes were a little crazy. When I mentioned that to him, he told me that his eyes only ever looked normal when he was high. I told him to go smoke something. I can still see his eyes now in my mind when I shut my own.

I also remember uneasiness filling my stomach at the memory of him calling himself a – what was it again? Oh right, a polymath. 

At first I speculated that it had something to do with psychopath. But then a quick Google search told me it was a person with wide knowledge or learning. It seemed to me that he held himself in pretty high regard. Annoyed, I jokingly called him a narcissist.

How would the smartest person on Earth know that he’s smart?

This led to an existential crisis. Not his, but mine. He said: “That’s what all ordinary people call smart people: narcissists. How would the smartest person on Earth know that he’s smart?”

I replied: “Because other people would rank him as the smartest person on Earth.”

He said: “But mundane people wouldn’t be able to fully comprehend his vast amount of knowledge, so how could they know he was the smartest person on Earth?”

I couldn’t think of a good answer. I ventured another answer: “He can enter competitions and win them.”

But would such a person enter contests? “What value do competitions hold, if he is pitting himself against those inferior to him?” he asked.


People’s looks and personalities are two different things – but sometimes they match, sometimes not. At one point, I told him that I had been talking to a boy prior to him, and he had a decent physical appearance but the most boring personality ever. He admitted that it was how he viewed me: a rather basic personality with a pretty face (he actually somehow compared me to a flower but my short term memory fails me as to which one). And yet he decided to talk to me because I seemed “nice and friendly”. 

Looks and personalities sometimes match – and sometimes totally don’t. Image: Unsplash

He said that if I didn’t find him cute enough to talk to, should he have put mascara on? I told him that he should try the challenge that most girls face every morning: to put on perfect eyeliner in five minutes. 

At one point, he mentioned that the more outlandish and out of place a person seems to him, the more attracted he is to them. After hearing that, I was quite grateful for my ordinary looks and personality. 


But we did become friends of a sort, for a while, at least. He went on to say that was a wizard. I said I could picture him as a sorcerer, with decapitated heads in his room which he would use to brew magical potions. He was not offended, but said he was rather impressed by my imagination. 

I set aside my judgment about him, based on his looks and self-declared occupations, in favour of the pleasure of having got to know an interesting character. But when I shared my hopes for my own future, to get a law degree from a highly ranked university, he put down his judgment of me as a person who has extremely “basic” aspirations.

We were clearly very different. Still, regardless of that, we talked for about four hours. We’ll probably never cross paths again. 

And I still don’t know his name. 

Image at the top from Shoeib Abolhassani/ Unsplash

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Be the first to know the latest updates

[yikes-mailchimp form="1"]